Friday, June 8, 2012

Mind the App

The launch of the WiFi Hotspot service on London Underground yesterday is very exciting, and it's great to be able to say that as someone who has been involved with the project team and seen how much fantastic work has gone into it.

A couple of weeks ago some of us got together to do some load testing of the service, and I was amused by two things from the morning's testing.

1) The sight of lots of people huddled up against the end of the platform all streaming on smartphones and tablets (to mimic what the load impact of a train coming into the station might look like), making us look like we were all facing the wrong way as a lift's doors opened!

2) The magic moment of the service for me so far – the sight of a commuter walking past one of the team who was making a phone call using the service, leading to the commuter double taking and giving the chap a look suggesting he thought he was talking to himself.

Now that the service is live I wandered down to one of the launch stations - Warren Street – last night and had a go.  I must say it was a really brilliant experience (and yes, I am biased).

I saw the WiFi network from my BlackBerry as I was at the top of the main escalator and managed to connect to it, register my e-mail address and be up and running on the service's portal by the time I’d reached the bottom of the escalator – that's a fantastic experience.

In fact I can even show how quick it was by the fact that I'd been able to post a picture on Twitter by the top of the second escalator – my first tweet from the service (those of you who follow me on Twitter realise this was never going to be my last):
Another compulsory tweet from the Victoria Line platform then also had to be posted:
What was really impressive for me was the concurrent use of the service.  While I was waiting for the next train I posted a couple of Facebook updates, some tweets, replied to some e-mails from the boss (can’t escape!) and was streaming some Blur on Spotify – all concurrently and without interruption to the music.  Impressive!

I didn’t run a speedtest while I was at the platform, but I noted from a user's tweet yesterday that they did:
 
Not bad huh?  More about the service can be found here if you're interested – I think it's going to prove really popular and great, going by my experience as a user!

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